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School of hard Knox
June 5, 2006 5:20 PM   Subscribe

Stephen Colbert's Knox College Commencement Speech. In a similar vein to Jon Stewart's William and Mary speech and Conan O'Brien's Harvard speech.
posted by cloeburner (55 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
[Previously on Knox College]
posted by grobstein at 5:27 PM on June 5, 2006


You know when Colbert did that turn skitting Bush, and all the papers said they didn't report it because he wasn't funny? I'm thinking they had a point.
posted by jack_mo at 5:29 PM on June 5, 2006


I'd definitely agree that Stewart and O'Brien's speeches are far superior to Colbert's, but reading Stephen's address is still a good way to pass time.

I thought his speech was all over the place, it seemed more to be tailored towards jokes than towards any specific point.
posted by cloeburner at 5:33 PM on June 5, 2006


And in the vein of Ali G's 2004 Harvard Class Day Speech and Al Franken's 2002 Harvard Class Day Speech.
posted by ericb at 5:34 PM on June 5, 2006 [1 favorite]



Are you guys kidding me? This was a fantastic speech, the man is a genius. The sense of humor reminds me a lot of Groucho Marx's sense of play with the moment -- especially where Colbert says he has to catch that train when he hears the whistle, or "Yes, yes, I agree with me."
posted by bukharin at 5:36 PM on June 5, 2006


Not funny?

So we must build walls. A wall obviously across the entire southern border. That’s the answer. That may not be enough—maybe a moat in front of it, or a fire-pit. Maybe a flaming moat, filled with fire-proof crocodiles. And we should probably wall off the northern border as well. Keep those Canadians with their socialized medicine and their skunky beer out. And because immigrants can swim, we’ll probably want to wall off the coasts as well. And while we’re at it, we need to put up a dome, in case they have catapults. And we’ll punch some holes in it so we can breathe. Breathe free. It’s time for illegal immigrants to go—right after they finish building those walls. Yes, yes, I agree with me.

C'mon. "Fire-proof crocodiles?" That was great.
posted by tkchrist at 5:40 PM on June 5, 2006 [1 favorite]


Well, you are about to start the greatest improvisation of all. With no script. No idea what’s going to happen, often with people and places you have never seen before. And you are not in control. So say “yes.” And if you’re lucky, you’ll find people who will say “yes” back.

Now will saying “yes” get you in trouble at times? Will saying “yes” lead you to doing some foolish things? Yes it will. But don’t be afraid to be a fool. Remember, you cannot be both young and wise. Young people who pretend to be wise to the ways of the world are mostly just cynics. Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it. Because cynics don’t learn anything. Because cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us. Cynics always say no. But saying “yes” begins things. Saying “yes” is how things grow. Saying “yes” leads to knowledge. “Yes” is for young people. So for as long as you have the strength to, say “yes.”
posted by stenseng at 5:43 PM on June 5, 2006


I did particularly enjoy the part that stenseng quoted.
posted by cloeburner at 5:47 PM on June 5, 2006


Heh, that was gold.
posted by Mach3avelli at 5:59 PM on June 5, 2006


C'mon. "Fire-proof crocodiles?" That was great.

Your favourite sense of humour sucks ;-)

Subjective, obviously, but reading this and having seen clips online, Colbert always seems to be nearly funny. The folk who really crack me up something rotten are Peter Cook and Chris Morris, though, so maybe my bar is set too high. Jon Stewart and Conan O'Brien (who he? fabulous name) definitely win the amusing commencement address thing.
posted by jack_mo at 6:00 PM on June 5, 2006


Ali G was great.
posted by RufusW at 6:06 PM on June 5, 2006


[url]http://www.marginalia.org/dfw_kenyon_commencement.html[/url] provided for contrast, not humor
posted by ginger rootless at 6:07 PM on June 5, 2006 [1 favorite]


Fabulous speech. I love Colbert as much as anyone, but is a graduation speech really the place to push your political ideology?

Goose, gander, and all.
posted by Feral at 6:08 PM on June 5, 2006


I love Colbert and I thought it was quite good (even though he recycled some of the material) but I'll go ahead and be the Negative Nancy here: What happened to, you know, scholars and important policy-maker types giving commencement speeches? Why is it always entertainers?
posted by papakwanz at 6:14 PM on June 5, 2006



but is a graduation speech really the place to push your political ideology?

Is this question even relevant to Colbert's speech?

What exactly would be Colbert's "ideology?" This is a word far too often applied to diminish the power of mere truth. Anything anyone says must come from an "ideology," which traditionally has meant a set of beliefs as an organizing principle, which Colbert, even behind the mind-bending prism of his satire, is hardly pushing on anyone.
posted by bukharin at 6:14 PM on June 5, 2006


...any time one of the guys mentions the Dred Scott decision you have to chug a beer. Well, technically 3/5 of a beer. [groans from audience] You DO have a good education! I wasn’t sure if anybody was going to get that joke.

That was the best part. It's a good thing the transcriber mentioned the groans, or would not have made sense.
posted by Potsy at 6:17 PM on June 5, 2006


and wear... sunscreen...
posted by blue_beetle at 6:24 PM on June 5, 2006


Video of the speech at youTube, not complete though.
posted by McSly at 6:25 PM on June 5, 2006


i suspect colbert's speech is funnier when you hear the delivery. he's one of those guys for whom the old adage about delivery and timing being everything is especially true. try reading transcripts for episodes of the colbert show that you haven't already seen. so much of it is in his presentation that you might not even recognize a joke when you read it.
posted by shmegegge at 6:25 PM on June 5, 2006


What happened to, you know, scholars and important policy-maker types giving commencement speeches? Why is it always entertainers?

it isn't. these are three colleges among thousands over a period of 6 years. this represents approximately .0025% of the total commencement speeches given over that period of time, if my math is correct. (and it may not be. i did it in my head quickly and i was an english major. oh, and i computed for 12 total commencement speeches over six years per institution because of winter graduations.)
posted by shmegegge at 6:28 PM on June 5, 2006


What happened to, you know, scholars and important policy-maker types giving commencement speeches? Why is it always entertainers?

In the case of the three Harvard speeches (Ali G, Franken and O'Brien) mentioned above (oops -- forgot Will Ferrell's 2003 Class Day address) -- these were not commencement speeches, but Class Day addresses given the day before graduation (at which the "scholars and important policy-maker types" pontificate).
posted by ericb at 6:41 PM on June 5, 2006 [1 favorite]


List of 2006 commencement speakers

Yes, I am shocked someone bothered to compile this. Anyways, there aren't that many entertainers, really. Maybe 10%. And very few "cool" ones at that. Although St. Lawrence University did have Viggo Mortensen. I'm sure he gave the ladies the vapors.
posted by smackfu at 6:45 PM on June 5, 2006


Seth MacFarlane, (creator and executive producer of "Family Guy") is this year's Harvard Class Day speaker (on Wednesday) with Jim Lehrer being the principal speaker at Thursday's commencement.
posted by ericb at 6:46 PM on June 5, 2006


and wear... sunscreen...

Don't forget the Body Armor.
posted by Balisong at 6:47 PM on June 5, 2006


No BugMeNot voodoo for the Chronicle of Higher Education, eh?
posted by emelenjr at 7:15 PM on June 5, 2006


What happened to, you know, scholars and important policy-maker types giving commencement speeches? Why is it always entertainers?

He's a graduate of Knox College.
posted by imposster at 7:34 PM on June 5, 2006



He's a graduate of Knox College

"But the best reason for me to come to speak at Knox College is that I attended Knox College. This is part of my personal history that you will rarely see reported. Partly because the press doesn’t do the proper research. But mostly because…it is not true! I just made it up, so this moment would be more poignant for all of us."
posted by bukharin at 7:40 PM on June 5, 2006


No, he's a graduate of Northwestern.
posted by prodigalsun at 7:42 PM on June 5, 2006


I like the fact that Colberts ears are all jacked-up .

If you look at his face from straight ahead, his ears are doing the same thing as shannon (doh)erty's eyes. . .

(Qualified because I'm fella with a crooked nose, broken more than once.)

symmetry is for the weak.
posted by isopraxis at 7:43 PM on June 5, 2006


I don't really fault him for bringing his best material to the WH correspondents dinner, and just having a little fun at the minor college graduation. Would you prefer the reverse? Truth to power.
posted by intermod at 7:47 PM on June 5, 2006


I've watched the video of his White House Press correspondents dinner speech several times now and I have to say that that speech and the audience's reaction to it is the best proof anyone needs to show beyond a shadow of a doubt that the liberal media line is a bunch of horse shit.

Also, I enjoyed reading this speech, but as someone upstream said, I imagine that it would have been funnier seeing it and hearing the delivery. A video link would have been awesome. Nonetheless, thanks for the link!
posted by Effigy2000 at 8:32 PM on June 5, 2006


I've watched the video of his White House Press correspondents dinner speech several times now and I have to say that that speech and the audience's reaction to it is the best proof anyone needs to show beyond a shadow of a doubt that the liberal media line is a bunch of horse shit.

Also, I enjoyed reading this speech, but as someone upstream said, I imagine that it would have been funnier seeing it and hearing the delivery. A video link would have been awesome. Nonetheless, thanks for the link!
posted by Effigy2000 at 8:32 PM on June 5, 2006


I've watched the video of his White House Press correspondents dinner speech several times now and I have to say that that speech and the audience's reaction to it is the best proof anyone needs to show beyond a shadow of a doubt that the liberal media line is a bunch of horse shit.

Also, I enjoyed reading this speech, but as someone upstream said, I imagine that it would have been funnier seeing it and hearing the delivery. A video link would have been awesome. Nonetheless, thanks for the link!
posted by Effigy2000 at 8:32 PM on June 5, 2006



Could you repeat that?
posted by bukharin at 8:42 PM on June 5, 2006


I've watched the video of his White House Press correspondents dinner speech several times now and I have to say that that speech and the audience's reaction to it is the best proof anyone needs to show beyond a shadow of a doubt that the liberal media line is a bunch of horse shit.

Also, I enjoyed reading this speech, but as someone upstream said, I imagine that it would have been funnier seeing it and hearing the delivery. A video link would have been awesome. Nonetheless, thanks for the link!
posted by Alex404 at 9:03 PM on June 5, 2006


Anyone watch his 100th episode, the one that was just on?

Good stuff.
posted by delmoi at 9:04 PM on June 5, 2006


this is nuts. as surly and facile as these speeches are, they are going to go down as some of the finest of our generation, simply because our "scholars and important policy-maker types" have pretty much nothing to say.

compare: here's barack obama's 2005 knox college commencement speech, which isn't bad. it just isn't any kind of oratory. and he's considered the cadillac of "important policy-maker" orators.

i think the commencement speech has gone the way of the manifesto.
posted by 3.2.3 at 9:13 PM on June 5, 2006


Garrison Keillor gave the most incredible graduation address at the '02 Macalester College Graduation. It's basic theme was go fuck around in the world for awhile. Wait till your older to get a serious job. Several people walked out when he insulted lawyers and investment bankers. It was great. But strangely I have never been able to find it online.
posted by afu at 9:47 PM on June 5, 2006 [1 favorite]


My alma mater's commencement speakers are George and Barbara Bush, both of whom are receiving honorary Doctor of Public Service degrees. What has Barbara Bush ever done for public service?
posted by ryokoblue at 9:48 PM on June 5, 2006


I never gave a shit about my own graduation, so I decided not to go. This meant that instead of seeing Buddy Guy give a commencement speech with his guitar last month at Chicago's horrendous Columbia College, I slept through some farmer's speech as my sister graduated from the Agriculture School at the U of I. This will probably be a minor gripe from now til the end of my days.
posted by elr at 9:52 PM on June 5, 2006


our "scholars and important policy-maker types" have pretty much nothing to say

David Foster Wallace, Kenyon University, last year.

As with much of Wallace's work, you're asked to invest a bit of time to get through the sort of seemingly scattered opening chunk, after which it builds into one of the wisest things I've ever read.

Posted right here in the Blue a year ago, well worth reposting annually.
posted by gompa at 9:54 PM on June 5, 2006



. What has Barbara Bush ever done for public service?

"And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this (she chuckled slightly)--this is working very well for them."


posted by bukharin at 10:02 PM on June 5, 2006


Colbert's speech was good, not great. Conan's speech, however, was absolutely hilarious.

"And you went to Harvard?"
posted by Davenhill at 12:33 AM on June 6, 2006


George and Barbara tend to do a lot of college/university speaking engagements together, including an appearance at my alma mater in 1999 when I was still working for the local paper in Chestertown, MD.


posted by emelenjr at 4:18 AM on June 6, 2006


Come on, this speech is hilarious through and through. Thanks for posting it.

Barbara Bush actually came up at dinner last night, or at least Ice-T's pithy characterization of her from 15 years ago did.
posted by ibmcginty at 4:48 AM on June 6, 2006


The important policy wonk and scholarly speeches don't get posted to Metafilter. Celebrity is the new royalty.
posted by theora55 at 6:24 AM on June 6, 2006


compare: here's barack obama's 2005 knox college commencement speech, which isn't bad. it just isn't any kind of oratory. and he's considered the cadillac of "important policy-maker" orators.

I'm reluctant to judge a speech strictly on the text, especially when we're talking about the oratory.
posted by smackfu at 6:47 AM on June 6, 2006


What has Barbara Bush ever done for public service?

Dude, she incubated the anti-christ! She's like the bizarro Mary.
posted by Biblio at 6:49 AM on June 6, 2006


How can you not love this joke?

"We played a drinking game called Lincoln-Douglas. Great game. What you do is, you act out the Lincoln-Douglas debate and any time one of the guys mentions the Dred Scott decision you have to chug a beer. Well, technically 3/5 of a beer."
posted by feloniousmonk at 8:40 AM on June 6, 2006


Dude, she incubated the anti-christ! She's like the bizarro Mary.


You win, Biblio.
posted by bukharin at 1:01 PM on June 6, 2006


How can you not love this joke?

Well, in my case, by not having a clue what the Lincoln-Douglas debate is, or what the Dred Scott decision is, or what the fraction 3/5 has to do with either.
posted by jack_mo at 1:02 PM on June 6, 2006


And you call yourself an American.
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:52 PM on June 6, 2006


Lincoln - Douglas Debates of 1858 (one of which was held at Knox College where Colbert gave his commencement address).

Dred Scott Case.

"Two compromises concerning slavery emerged in the Constitution. First, in order to assuage Northern worries about growing representation in the slave states, it was agreed that 3/5 of the number of slaves would be counted for the purposes of representation and taxation."
posted by ericb at 2:30 PM on June 6, 2006


And you call yourself an American.

jack_mo lives in Glasgow, Scotland.
posted by ericb at 2:32 PM on June 6, 2006


And I call myself an accredited humorologist with over 4 years of experience with the SnarkTechtm Personality Enlaughenment Course.

I'm a fraud and a failure.
posted by sonofsamiam at 2:40 PM on June 6, 2006


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